Today in Ashland we awoke to gray skies and much cooler weather. How did that happen? Just a few days ago the temperature reached 95 and right now the thermometer is barely hitting 65! Welcome to Fall everyone!
That last month of summer quickly slipped by me. Perhaps I was busy but it went by so fast! One minute we were camping and then it was back to school again (not for my kids but still) and the leaves are now changing. Now before I get off on a rant (I know, you’re all thinking, “whew”) let me just share a few of the baked goodies that I managed to squeeze into the last few weeks.
One day, Emile and I were on our morning walk when I saw my friend going to her car. I called out “Hi… How are you?” She responded, “Not good. My dog is hemorrhaging. I need to bring him to the vet.” I was stunned into silence and don’t even know if I managed to wave goodbye. As we continued our walk, Emile turned to me and said, “There’s a pie in her future isn’t there?” He knows me so well! This gluten-free cheesecake/pear tart (which was later topped with toasted almonds – sorry, no photo of that) was brought to that woman to let her know that I understood the pain of losing a beloved pet.
Then there were the quiches… with crimini mushrooms and peppers that I roasted (and what a wonderful scent they left in my kitchen!). One of these was brought to a friend with an ailing partner. My heart aches for them both. The other quiche was for our new interim pastor (aka Mary Poppins) on the day that she arrived in the valley. It was my hope that by bringing her something homemade she would feel welcomed into our community.
These chocolate cupcakes were my contribution to my friend Marie’s birthday party. We laughed trying to decide if they were my version of Ding Dong’s or Ho Ho’s. All I know is that they are simply delicious and deliciously simple to make! I make my favorite cupcakes, fill them with a squirt of whipped cream, and coat them in chocolate (melted with a bit of coconut oil) and then top with more whipped cream. Yum!
Here is a photo of them midway through the process… I use a paring knife to cut a slit in the top of each cupcake and then a pastry bag to fill the centers with the whipped cream. It’s really easy! By the time you coat them with chocolate and top them with cream, the inside cream becomes a hidden delightful surprise!
Last week I picked many bowls of delicious grapes at my friend Stella’s house and because I don’t own a food dryer, tried my hand at making raisins in my oven. It took about a day at 175 degrees… and it worked! They are the best raisins I’ve ever had (except maybe for the muscat raisins we used to get at the market in south San Francisco). I probably picked 15 pounds of grapes… and they cooked down to about 3 pounds of raisins…. but they are soooooo good!
Another treat that I made was for my neighbors, Ellen and Owen. They came home after a very long “vacation” to visit their granddaughter (and her parents of course!) As sweets are out of the question for Owen, I decided to make bagels to remind him of his time in New York. I used this recipe by John D. Lee because it makes bagel making fast (just about 90 minutes) and very easy! These bagels are incredibly tasty; I know because I devoured one minutes after it came out of the oven. Do try this recipe… you won’t be disappointed!
Finally, last Saturday I created a platter of gluten-free sweets (coconut almond macaroons, raspberry-topped brownies, and peanut butter cookies) for supporters of the Ashland Schools Foundation. They were treated to a beautiful event at Bel Fiore Winery and though I am sorry I couldn not attend, I was very happy to contribute.
That’s about all I have to share right now. Next time I write I hope to share tales of my visit to see my daughter, Alexandra, for her birthday. She’s been working at Warby Parker since the spring and I am anxious to see New York through her eyes. Til then, I wish you all sweet dreams!